“It made me feel more alive”: Young mums share their thoughts on Mental Skills Training trip
05 OCT 2015

Eight young mums who live at our Trentham House scheme in Acocks Green got to travel to Lake Coniston in September, to take
part in the final stage of the Mental Skills Training programme, which is a 10 week course. This is the 4th group of young people to take part in the programme but the first group of young mums to take part.

The Mental Skills Training (MST) programme delivered in partnership with the School of Sports Science at the University of Birmingham has become a central component of St Basils Learning, Skills and Work offer to young people and those who are currently NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) are in particular encouraged to take part in the programme, which uses similar techniques to those used by sports coaches to establish aspirations, set goals, establish support networks to build confidence and develop team work and problem solving skills. All this is aimed at building the mental resilience needed to cope with rejection or disappointment as those applying for jobs have to face but to train young people to refocus on their goals and try again, just as successful sportsmen and women are trained to do.

 Working in partnership with our Learning, Skills and Work team, the University of Birmingham have developed an extremely comprehensive programme fully tailored to the needs of our young people, which uses activities followed by reflection and discussion to help young people understand how to utilise and apply these skills in real life situations.

The programme culminates in a residential trip to Lake Coniston, an environment that offers a variety of activities aimed at challenging young people and proving to them that if they believe in themselves and have a go, they can do it. It gives young people a sense of achievement and a taste of the rewards that go with giving it your all.

On this trip, the 8 young mothers went on a walk of the village and harbour area, got to explore the old slate mines known as ‘Cathedral Cavern’ which has an indoor natural pool, went climbing, as a group rowed in 2 canoes for over an hour on the lake to a small island and rowed back, walked the high ropes and did the zip wire.

Leanne, 20 said: “The trip was fun, a good experience. I didn’t want to leave. I loved the area, being there made me feel more alive. It was like being on another planet. And I conquered some of my fears. I was terrified of the water. I didn’t want to do the canoeing…but I did it and at the end I actually jumped in the water! It’s about trying things even if you’re scared and I was ok doing it with Michelle holding my hand. Then I did it again on my own because I knew I could do it”.

Mercedes, 17 said: “I really enjoyed the trip. I just enjoyed doing things I would never normally do. I wanted to try everything though. I’m curious like that. On the trip the best thing was the zip wire. That was an amazing natural high. I don’t know how anyone could do it without laughing. We all loved it! I liked the high ropes task too. You had to just trust that the people below you would hold you up and wouldn’t let you drop, that they wouldn’t let that happen to you.  It was good to get to know some of the other girls better too as I don’t really see them normally. It definitely broke the ice.”

“Other than that, across the whole MST programme, my favourite task was the football cards one. We had to ‘pick a team’ from the people we know who we would have around us to remind us of who we do have around us and the role they play in supporting us but also in driving us towards our goals. There were roles like ‘The manager, ‘the coach’. It’s about who are support system is. It made me think about the people in my life in a different way.”

LSW Worker Michelle Doyle who accompanied the young people on the trip said: “These young people did us proud. They embraced everything and supported each other. Especially on the team tasks, such as the high ropes. This trip is about learning to support each other and having a go at everything and even though Leanne was petrified of the water, she trusted us and jumped in with me and once she’d done it once, she had the confidence to do it again. I saw a real change in some of the girls even in the space of that short weekend.”